Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Vickers report overlooks the banking system within NI

The UK banking system needs to become more competitive and more stable, the interim report by Sir John Vickers has concluded.

But the report largely ignored the distinctive conditions in Northern Ireland, with only two references made to the province in the whole 214-page report.

The report referred, in passing, to the fact that “some markets are significantly more concentrated in parts of the UK”, for example those in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It explained that “the market in Northern Ireland is complicated by the financial stability problems of the Irish-owned banks”.

But, it added: “The Commission does not currently intend to make region-specific recommendation, but it is mindful of specific regional issues and impacts, and would welcome further evidence on this subject.”

The only other reference in the report to Northern Ireland was the suggestion that there may be stronger brand loyalty in Scotland and Northern Ireland to traditionally dominant banks, creating a significant barrier to expansion to those banks seeking to enter the market.

Key recommendations of the Vickers report include the ring-fencing of retail and investment banking; creating a new regulatory objective of promoting banking competition; the introduction of measures to assist customers to switch banks; reducing barriers to entry for new banks; and enhancing the existing obligation on the Lloyds Group to dispose of some of its assets and liabilities.

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